Ghana: President Akufo-Addo Seeks Coalition To Fight West Africa ‘Terrorism’

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Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo on Thursday called for a “global coalition of democracies” to fight violent extremist groups in West Africa that have been spreading south from the Sahel toward Ghana and its neighbours.

“The menace caused by terrorism is such that we must share the burden of the fight,” said Afuko-Addo, in a Washington speech in which he contrasted Western aid for Ukraine with that given to West African democracies.

“This is a time for a global coalition of democracies, a coalition of the willing, determined to banish the spectre of terrorism and violent extremism.”

With Islamist militants controlling large swaths of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, the United States and other Western partners have been looking to help Ghana and other coastal West African states strengthen their defences.

While Ghana has so far been spared direct violence attributed to militias, Togo, Benin and Ivory Coast have all suffered attacks near their borders in recent years.

But aid for West Africa has been lacking compared to assistance offered to Ukraine, Afuko-Addo argued, speaking at the US Institute for Peace, a government-chartered policy centre.

US aid to Ukraine since last year’s Russian invasion has climbed to $73.6 billion, while the combined assistance from the European Union, United Kingdom and United States to the West African bloc Ecowas has only amounted to $29.6 million over the same period, Afuko-Addo said.

The president’s call for more security assistance comes as the United States and France have pulled back security assistance in recent years from Mali and Burkina Faso, as extremist violence has spiraled and military juntas have taken over.

A July coup in Niger spelled the defeat of another Western partner in the region.

But Afuko-Addo said Western boots on the ground weren’t necessary in Ghana or other coastal states.

“Foreign troops do not have to be involved. West African troops can do the job,” he said, praising existing cooperation and intelligence sharing among Gulf of Guinea and Sahel countries.

The presence of French troops in Paris’s former colonies in the Sahel had become controversial, with protesters blaming them for being unable to stem the rising violence.

Having already left Burkina Faso and Mali, French troops started departing Niger on Tuesday.

An official declaration by Washington that a coup had taken place in Niger has cut off $500 million in assistance to the country, though for now it is maintaining its force of about 1,000 troops there.

As of earlier this year, Benin had reported more than 20 armed incursions since 2021, and Togo’s president in April said that 100 civilians and 40 soldiers had been killed in militia attacks.

But as coastal states look for outside aid, some critics of Western-led security assistance in Africa have warned that the Sahel’s increasing instability has come in part because of an overly militarized response.

THE EAST AFRICAN

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